It's year in review time, and Rob Ford couldn't help but get in on the fun. Earlier today he posted a roundup of his accomplishments in 2011 to his Facebook page, which is sure to send his critics into full-out fact-checking mode. I'm not going to go through the entire document myself, but it's worth noting the manner in which many of the items on the list are framed.
Call it spin or merely the political ideology that underwrites Ford and his administration's interpretation of their policies, but depending on where you're coming from, lots of what appears on his list is dubious in the "accomplishment" department, all those well-placed exclamation points be damned.
- Did Ford stop "out-of-control spending growth at City Hall"? Most would say — including his former campaign manager — that the so-called gravy train never existed in the first place.
- Was there more public consultation on the budgetary process than ever before? Probably — but only because hundreds signed up to depute against cuts to Toronto services, many of whose voices went virtually unheard.
- Was the elimination of the personal vehicle tax a good thing — or was it merely part of a strategy to create a budgetary gap that wouldn't have existed otherwise? Once you've got a gap, the argument to cut the size of government starts to make a whole lot more sense...
- And what of subways? Ford claims, once again, that he has made them "the backbone of rapid transit in Toronto," but aside from the projects that were already in the works prior to Ford's arrival on the scene (i.e. the Spadina extension), nothing has been accomplished in this area other than the loss of viable transit options on Sheppard and Finch. Anyone care to disagree?
Here's the full report. Please post your impressions, opinions, and fact-checking exercises.
We are fast approaching the end of another year and I am very pleased to report that we have accomplished much in these past 12 months.
2011-2012 Budgets - Rebuilding our Fiscal Foundation
- Stopped out-of-control spending growth at City Hall
- 2011: 0% Property Tax increase
- Changed the trend line - 2012 gross operating budget will be lower than 2011!
- Found $355 Million in permanent savings
- Almost eliminated Structural Deficit by reducing reliance on 1-time surplus funds
- More public consultation in 2011/2012 budget process than ever before
- Accelerated Budget process to bring more control to our spending.
Eliminated the Personal Vehicle Tax (PVT)
- Put $64 Million back into the pockets of taxpayers.
- Forced Council to address its crumbling fiscal foundation.
Reduced Council Budgets
Contracted out Garbage Collection
- Leading by Example!
- Froze Mayor's & Councillors' salaries.
- Reduced Mayor's Budget by $700,000 and Councillor Expense budgets to save $900,000.
- Reduced travel and non-essential expenses (catering) for Council.
Made TTC an Essential Service
- Contracted out curb-side garbage pick-up west of Yonge St.
- Will save $11.5 Million per year for seven years.
- Will avoid future public sector garbage strikes in west Toronto.
- TTC is essential to our economy.
- Riders now protected from transit strikes like the one crippling York Region.
Renewed public faith in TCHC
Made Subways the Backbone of Rapid Transit in Toronto
- Replaced a board of directors that had lost public confidence.
- Replaced senior management.
- Developed a plan to address $650 Million backlog in repairs (Selling 22 expensive, run-down scattered housing units will generate funds to repair 450 units, sold non-core laundry company to generate $4.5 Million for repairs)Introduced changes in purchasing that saved $3.5 Million in just three months (e.g. TCHC was buying batteries for $3.50 from a hardware store, now buy through city shared purchasing program for just $0.95!!)
- Negotiated an MOU for Sheppard Subway with province.
- Construction started on fully-underground Eglinton line - extended to Scarborough Town Ctr.
- Construction underway on York University - Spadina line extension.
Adopted Whistleblower Protection
- 1st Bylaw protection for city staff who report fraud, waste or mismanagement
Made Council more Transparent & Accountable
- All council votes and councillor attendance now recorded and online.
- Council & Committee Agendas, records of decision, most reports online.
Posted More Expenses Online
- Purchasing Card expenses now online.
- Senior Managers' expenses approved to go online in 2012.
During this time of year we must count our blessings and remember what matters most. We also remember those less fortunate than us and give back to those who need our help the most. In this spirit, I invite you to join me in my annual Christmas Toy Drive and donate an unwrapped toy to a child in need. Without your generosity there are children in our own City who might not have a Christmas. No child should go without a gift under their tree, and with your help we can ensure everyone has a holiday season this year.
Please drop off an unwrapped toy in the City Hall Rotunda or any other civic centre until December 23rd.
I hope that you will also join me on Friday, December 23rd at 11:30 am at City Hall for the annual Christmas Coral Celebration to enjoy the sounds of the Christmas season.
I wish you all a safe and peaceful Christmas and a very Happy Holidays this season.
Mayor Rob Ford
City of Toronto